Top 10 Sites and Sights seen on the Trails

The new year is always a good time for reflection. I have realized how much I’ve been hiking over the past few years. And I’ve been blessed to see really cool things on these excursions. Bottom line, even with close to 1 million people, O’ahu is not some lost cause… it still has great natural sites and sights. So to highlight that, here is my completely arbitrary top ten native biota seen on the trails of O’ahu. (I’m only including stuff that I’ve seen from fairly well known trails… so anyone can visit them!)

10  SandalwoodIliahi grove -Kaunala Trail

Purely an aesthetic choice. Seeing these large sandalwood with grass underneath, it looked like a shot straight out of a landscaping magazine.

 9  Dwarf OhiaDwarf ‘Ohia -‘Aiea Ridge Terminus

Normally towering trees, this variety is stunted. They look more like an awesome ground cover.

 8 IMG_1419Achatinella mustelina -Wai’anae Kai Trail

Who knew turning over a new leaf could be so much fun?

 7  IMG_1801Manu-O-Ku -Honolulu!

Perhaps these birds just like late night Korean BBQ. Whatever the case, none of the main islands has as robust population of Manu-O-Ku than those in and around Honolulu.

 6 lehua papaLehua Papa -Moanalua Middle Ridge

Another aesthetic choice, this Metrosideros rugosa just had such a pretty crown. And such a dramatic setting too.

 5 Ochrosia flower Holei -Hawai’i Loa Ridge Trail 

If it were up to me, I’d nominate the Hawai’i Loa Ridge Trail as the best trail to learn about native plants. From dry shrublands to mesic forest to wet summit, this trail has it all. And it has large individuals of fairly rare plants too.

 4 Cyanea superba (1) Cyanea superba exclosure -Mokule’ia Trail

Visiting one of the most spectacular of the Hawai’i lobeliads is a treat onto itself. But the exclosure also has the neat arborescent Euphorbia herbstii… marvelous!

 3 Clermontia kakeana Clermontia kakeana – Manoa Cliff Trail

So yes, disclaimer, I am part of the group that works on the restoration efforts at the Manoa Cliff Trail. Perhaps I’m tooting my own horn. Still, I’m willing to bet you’ll be hard-pressed to find this majestic plant on any Ko’olau trail.


 2 IMG_0890Laysan Albatross -Ka’ena Point

Albatross are some of the most beautiful of volant birds. Some of the most  energy efficient too!

 1  ‘Elepaio -Wiliwilinui Trail

So I don’t have a photo of this but I was impressed. On the way back from hiking the Wiliwilinui Trail, we came across a pair of ‘Elepaio. At the trailhead! These birds were literally feet from people’s backyards! ‘Elepaio on O’ahu are still in a precarious state, but encounters like these show the possibilities of a rosier future.

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